The Ronettes Biography

Veronica ‘Ronnie’ Bennett (10 August 1943, New York, USA), her sister Estelle (b. 22 July 1944, New York, USA) and cousin Nedra Talley (b. 27 January 1946, New York, USA) began their career as a dance act, the Dolly Sisters. By 1961 they had become the resident dance troupe at the famed Peppermint Lounge, home of the twist craze, and having taken tuition in harmony singing, later secured a recording contract. The trio’s first single, ‘I Want A Boy’, was credited to Ronnie And The Relatives, but when ‘Silhouettes’ followed in 1962, the Ronettes appellation was in place. They recorded four singles for the Colpix/May group and appeared on disc jockey Murray The K’s Live From The Brooklyn Fox before a chance telephone call resulted in their signing with producer Phil Spector. Their first collaboration, the majestic ‘Be My Baby’ defined the girl-group sound as Spector constructed a cavernous accompaniment around Ronnie’s plaintive, nasal voice. The single reached the Top 5 in the USA and UK before being succeeded by the equally worthwhile ‘Baby I Love You’, another Top 20 entrant in both countries. The producer’s infatuation with Ronnie - the couple were later married - resulted in some of his finest work being reserved for her, and although ensuing singles, including ‘The Best Part of Breaking Up’, ‘Walking In The Rain’ (both 1964) and ‘Is This What I Get For Loving You’ (1965), failed to recapture the Ronettes’ early success, they are among the finest pop singles of all time. Following their 1966 offering, ‘I Can Hear Music’, the group’s career was shelved during Spector’s mid-60s ‘retirement’.

The Ronettes name re-emerged in 1969 on A&M Records with ‘You Came, You Saw, You Conquered!’. Credited to ‘The Ronettes Featuring The Voice Of Veronica’ (effectively Ronnie and session singers), this excellent single was nonetheless commercially moribund and Ronnie’s aspirations were again sublimated. She released a one-off single for Apple Records in 1971, which marked the recording debut of the Ronnie Spector stage name. She separated from Spector in 1973 and joined Buddah Records, founding a new group with vocalists Diane Linton (later replaced by Denise Edwards) and Chip Fields. Ronnie And The Ronettes made their debut that year with ‘Lover Lover’, before changing their name to Ronnie Spector And The Ronettes for ‘I Wish I Never Saw The Sunshine’, an impassioned remake of a song recorded by the original line-up, but which remained unissued until 1976. The group’s name was then dropped as its lead singer pursued her solo ambitions. The long-running litigation between the Ronettes and Phil Spector appeared to have come to a close in July 2000, when they were finally awarded $2.6 million in overdue payment of royalties dating back to 1963. Two years later, however, the New York appeals court reversed the judgement.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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